2020 House Beautiful Visionaries: A Q&A with Anne and Jordan England
Our fearless founder, Anne, and her husband Jordan were recently profiled in the March issue of House Beautiful. Jordan and Anne were selected to be part of the “makers, doers and innovators” comprising this year’s Visionaries. They talked to House Beautiful about their vision for 2020 and beyond, but they couldn’t include everything! Below are a few things about Jordan and Anne’s vision for the future of furniture, and a little bit about where they came from, too.
Jordan: In 2010, three days after our first website went live, I got a phone call from a restauranteur who needed 90 chairs and stools for his fast-casual concept in Pittsburgh, and he needed them in 8-10 weeks! I looked out to my backyard storage shed with three chairs remaining and told him, “absolutely.” It was clear there was a large market for quick delivery of furniture and business owners/specifiers needed transparency in pricing and lead times. No other e-commerce furniture brands were doing that at the time. (And of course we hit his deadline. In fact, I drove the items up to Pittsburgh myself.)
Anne: The brick and mortar showroom gives us the opportunity to better interact with our customers. Plain and simple. Jordan and I are big believers in hospitality so we also want any spaces we launch to be used to host events and network. We hosted Filigree Suppers in our SoHo studio this past fall. It was an elegant dinner that fostered conversation and amazing food.
3. AS A WIFE-HUSBAND DUO, IT’S CLEAR YOU UNDERSTAND RELATIONSHIPS ARE KEY. HOW DOES THAT IMPACT THE REST OF THE BUSINESS?
Anne: Relationships are key. Working with suppliers that we trust is not just important, but central in how we live out our personal and professional lives. I personally have loved working with and getting to know members of the interior design community, especially Dani Arps. We got to know her because she sourced Industry West for her projects. What began as a business relationship has developed into a friendship. She ended up designing our SoHo showroom. She even partnered with us on the House Beautiful Whole Home project). She is an amazing designer and friend!
Jordan: Our best production facilities are those that understand our design aesthetic and view our business as an extension of their own. When we are aligned in this way, communication is a lot more fluid and future-looking.
4. GIVING BACK IS IN THE DNA OF THE COMPANY, HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?
Anne: Jordan and I never had an official conversation about giving back, it was something we just both think is important. Why not let your company echo that same ethos? The most recent project we helped furnish is JASMYN, a facility in our city that provides resources for homeless youth, namely those that identify as LGBTQ. It was incredibly rewarding to be a part of building this beautiful, safe place for young people in such a vulnerable state.
“Jordan and I never had an official conversation about giving back, it was something we just both think is important. Why not let your company echo that same ethos?"
5. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES THAT COME FROM BEING AN E-COMMERCE FIRST BUSINESS AND HOW HAS THE INDUSTRY CHANGED?
Jordan: When we started in 2010 we were one of just a handful of companies selling furniture online. Today, furniture still is considered a relatively new vertical in terms of e-commerce. The space has gotten incredibly complex and competitive. When we started we were running a pretty simple Drupal site. Today we're recognized as a leader in e-commerce by Adobe Magento and several of our software partners. We've built a platform that runs Industry West, Favor and our in-store POS. That's something I'm proud of.
Anne: I think about all the things that didn't exist when we first started. Facebook wasn't a publicly-traded company. Instagram literally is about as old as we are and certainly wasn't selling ads when we first got started. There are so many different channels now and we have to be selective about which ones we invest in. Because we are completely bootstrapped, we don't have the runway that a lot of our venture-backed competitors have. We have to be particularly discerning about our spend.